Saturday, August 22, 2009

"Mis"-Adventures at the Clear Lake Olympic Distance Triathlon

I had my adventure-
-or should I say misadventures--at the Clear Lake City International Triathlon yesterday.

I had to race down after work on Friday to try to grab a packet at the packet resell following packet pickup because I just missed out on regular registration when the race filled up early. In any case, I got down there and was able to get a packet. Then I endured the driving rain and a lightning storm of the way back home (about 50 miles). After I got home there was some nighttime rushing about as I prepared all my stuff for the race.

I had no problems getting up and travelling down to the race site on Saturday morning. After getting down there it did not take too long to get situated in transition and get my timing chip and marking done. Then began the misadventures of the day...

While getting into the water for the open water swim, I stepped on some rocks in the water along the "path" they had supposedly cleared for us. They put down some type of mats to walk on for a bit but these did not cover the sharp rocks which cut my right foot in two places, later that night I would realize that one gash was into the foot and was probably bleeding for a while but the second was just superficial. Other than that I was generally happy with the swim. I am not a fast swimmer, but after a bit I felt I got into a groove and swam along comfortably, although I did get off course a few times when I made the mistake of following other swimmers instead of trying to sight the course myself. In the end, I finished around my goal time or a bit better on the swim.

I took a little time in transition to make sure I had everything just right and headed out on the bike (and a very good transition location that was practically next to one entry/exit and was close to the other one). The bike ride started off well enough as it took us a bit through town, then we turned and head toward what looked like a huge bridge. After that it was fairly level ground for pretty much the rest of the race. Around mile 14 my troubles on the bike started...up until now I was riding well, and keep ahead of my goal pace. Miles 14 - 16 (based on their course map) were on a very rough road that, in my opinion, was not suitable for an event such as this. It was very rough and uneven, I think a cobblestone path might have been better. In this 2 mile stretch I passed quite a few bikes that had pulled over with flat tires (after seeing only 1 earlier in the race). As I got near the end of this stretch, my rear tire blew out. After spending some time fixing it and getting going, I lost the tire again. This time I saw the hole blown out from the tube through the tire--probably from the first flat. As I stood around wondering what to do next the bike support truck showed up. They replaced my tire and tube (and with a nicer tire than I had before!) and got me going again. I walked the rest of the way off this road (not very far at this point) and remounted at the next intersection and continued the ride. I had a bit of a tough time getting going again and never quite got back to the speed I maintained before. A couple of miles up the Olympic course merged back in with the sprint course, and then we headed back to the park. My plan was to take it a bit easier on the bike for the last 15 minutes or so, but the 40 minutes off the bike due to the tire issues had left me far behind and thrown me off plan. So I pushed myself to the end of the bike, fearing that I might miss a cutoff time to start the run. In retrospect this may have caused me some issues into the run.

Since my race was already pretty much shot, I moved a bit more slowly through transition to rest a bit at the same time, then I went out on the run. My run started well enough, sure it was hot and sunny by then and I was doing a 4/1 run/walk to keep from overtaxing myself but I was feeling fine doing the first 2 miles in just over 25 minutes. A short bit later however, I started feeling cramps and the walking was eventually more than the running. I tried to alter my nutrition to see if this would help. I passed a few people along the way who were coming back on the run who encouraged me, I can only imagine that I looked as bad as they did! At the turn-around they were discussing on the radio whether or not I was the last runner (I know there were some bikes that had still been behind me, but I guess they chose to drop out.) I would later cross paths with another runner heading out towards the turn-around point but was not sure if he was in the race or not. All the aid station workers were very friendly and helpful on the course and had words of encouragement for me. Nearer to the end of the run (the last 2 miles or so) I was able to start increasing my running compared to walking again, so I think taking in more Gatorade and some Endurolyte capsules on the run helped fight back those cramps. Also the cuts on my foot did not affect me as much as I might have expected, especially after seeing them later and cleaning out one of those cuts.

As I made it back I noticed that the transition area had been pretty much cleared out by then and they had started the awards ceremony. I did cross the finish line in 4:29, about 30 minutes after my goal of finishing in the 3.5 to 4 hour range, which I could have easily done had it not been for all my little side issues along the way. I know that few events go perfectly, but this one just seemed like a tragic joke along the way. I do feel good about a number of things that came out of this race:
1. I did finish, which was my main goal--it just took much longer than I ecpected.
2. I learned that I could handle all these problems coming up during the event and still finish.
3. I did not give up. Even if I only beat the guys that dropped out, I still beat them.
4. I learned a few things about race nutrition that I will use to help me on my next longer triathlon.
5. It might be hard to believe after reading this but I did enjoy the event, not during the trouble spots, but as a whole I am still glad to have done it.
6. I did not lose as much weight as I expected during the event, making me believe I need to increase my intake earlier to avoid a repeat of the run-cramping issues for better overall nutrition.
7. Finally, I learned that while I may not be ready for my half-ironman race in late October, I still think I can get there as I continue to advance my training to where I want to be.


Amanda said...

You finished - that is so awesome. You did great, especially with the troubles along the way. You should be very proud of yourself for sticking it out and not giving up - that's an incredible accomplishment.

Keep us posted on your training!

Bill D said...

Great job with the finish with all that went on.